Crabbed age and youth

About five months ago, I finally got around to reading Ian McEwan’s ‘Nutshell’, a novel about a foetus witnessing his mother and her lover’s ploy to murder his father. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I finished it with a slight bitter taste in my mouth: I couldn’t help but notice the complete and utter contempt the author seemed to aim at society; namely the youth. He seemed to blame young people for everything wrong in the western world – which is ironic, considering that every war being fought, every malnourished child, every bigot chanting on the streets is due to decisions made — or not made — by people from his, and previous generations.

Even the issues he seems to have with the young (our supposed intolerance and our apparent lack of intellectual curiosity) are in part because of his generation: the people who raised us. They are also the ones who have created this modern society that is so unequal, it can easily be infiltrated by ill-intentioned demagogues’ who preach hatred in the darkest corners of society, until that hatred rises to the top and is almost impossible to defeat. If the so called ‘grown-up’ and so called ‘rational’ generation had dealt with people’s grievances properly, instead of handing them scapegoats such as immigration, as a distraction from the real, glaring issue of neo-liberalism – my generation wouldn’t have to fight to right their wrongs.

In the book, Mr McEwan takes time out of his otherwise engaging story to call young people ‘social justice warriors’ – as if this is some kind insult, as if we should be ashamed of that. What he, and people like him don’t understand is that this new generation is proud of this association. We are proud to be known as actively fighting to make the world a safer place for everyone who inhabits it; even without the power and influence that our politicians enjoy.

The injustice we witness on a daily basis is so overwhelming, so hard to dismiss, that we have no other choice but to act. Unfortunately, due to our young age, the only weapons we have our physical bodies. So, we will march, we will shout at the top of our lungs and we will protest — until the world sees us and hears our chants — until things finally begin to change.

Image from:”Age+And+Youth”

Written by, Maureen Tuyishime

Things will never change

Every so often, as I’m just minding my own business going about my everyday life, it suddenly hits me like an unexpected punch in the face: the world is seriously unfair. But then I realise that of course the world is unfair; it was after all created by the rich for the rich. And so far, in spite of the occasional decade or so of upheaval and short spouts of unrest, their creation has yet to fail them.

The world, as I’ve occasionally glimpsed, is a wonderful and magical place: full of both natural and manmade beauties — from the Eiffel to Niagara Falls, the Egyptian pyramids to the Grand Canyon — that I will never get to see, expect maybe in a book or on the internet: because I am poor, because I was born to two loving parents’ who can’t support my curiosity because they too are poor. If I had been born to wealthy parents’, things would be very different. The world (as so-called grown-ups like to condescendingly say to the unenthused and disenchanted youth) would be my oyster. But it’s not, and it doesn’t seem as if it ever will be. The system I was born into would never allow it. People like me, who have always lived in what can only be described as poverty, have little if any hope of ever affording a house to rent, let alone a life as an intrepid explorer, existing for the sole purpose of learning and discovering new things — whilst there’s still a functioning planet to discover — because things will never change: the world is controlled by the lovers of Capitalism, and Capitalism demands that the minds of the impoverished be still, be silent and unquestioning. Capitalism demands that our poor bodies work, aimlessly and tirelessly to fill the greedy pockets of its champions. Until they have no more use of us.

In this unfair world, the poor are forced to live and die by this: work to survive and survive to work. It’s almost as if the creators of society were so insufferably wealthy, so removed from reality, that to them the poor weren’t really people, the unlucky many didn’t have any hopes or dreams; the word aspiration wasn’t even in the vocabulary of the poor, and people like myself were simply there for their own gains. It’s our great shame as a supposedly compassionate race, that things have yet to improve. Those of us who are already at a disadvantage due to a fate of birth, are still forced into lives we hate and into jobs that suck us dry of anything that could be described as happiness or fulfilment: by governments voted in by the people to help and support, but instead, waste time and money demeaning and maligning, contributing to an environment that sees the most vulnerable members of society dismissed as being: cheats, workshy and lazy. Whereas the future rich are advised by the current rich to bide their time, to invest and collect. To in franker terms, plan to be richer. And governments all over the world don’t just allow this to happen (oh no!) they actively encourage it. In fact, they probably do this themselves — which is probably why we see examples of the greedy rich selfishly hoarding wealth and goods, to little if any consequence.

We’ve seen this many times before: from the mere slap on the wrist bankers received after their callus risk taking caused the financial meltdown of 2007/2008, to the million pound houses that stand empty in our cities because they belong to the global rich, whilst the poor are forced into unthinkably dire circumstances that government do nothing to correct: because apparently, there is a housing crisis, caused in part (might I add) by the greed and indifference of people and governments that existed before I was even born, (Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, I’m talking to you). To the landlords gleefully rubbing their hands together, as they run around buying houses, like overexcited children in a sweet shop; just so they can rent them out at ridiculous prices, whilst at the same time eyeing up a higher bidder. And then there is a type of wealthy individual (you know the sort) who, after squeezing the wealth out of a country, relocates to places like Monaco; a shameless country that doesn’t even try to hide its status as a designated land for wealthy tax dodgers. Or happily take the advice of unscrupulous accountants; divesting wads of cash to places like the Cayman Islands, to avoid paying their fair contribution — because apparently, once you’ve made your millions, society no longer exists.

Then there is the grand manipulation. The super-rich aren’t happy with their endless supply of money (no!) they want everyone else to be happy about it too. And even though we know how they achieve this — dragging their shills and mouth-pieces in the media and in the government on our TV screens 24/7, to vouch for them and for their money — nothing will be done about it, because that’s the way things are. And to rub salt into the wound, the rich have managed to convince certain poor people that eventually, through so called hard work, and through so called determination, they too can be the hoarders of the world’s wealth. For an example of this, look no further than the United States of America and the so called “American dream” an idea that I’m almost certain was created by the rich, to further control the poor. But John Steinbeck put it best: ‘Socialism never took root because in America the poor see themselves as not the exploited, but as temporary embarrassed millionaires’. This can be said for most of the world and almost all of human history.

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Written by, Maureen Tuyishime